Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Somehow I find it difficult to write about books that I really loved. When a writer creates something truly beautiful, I want my review to be just as well written and it can’t be – I’m just not that great of a writer. So let me just say from the beginning that I loved Dreamland. I love Sarah Dessen’s books. She touches my heart.

Caitlin is the younger sister to the perfect child. Her older sister Cass was chosen to be homecoming queen, scored the winning goal in the soccer state championship, elected student body president, and accepted into Yale. There’s really no way for Caitlin to match up to all this perfection. And then, on Caitlin’s sixteenth birthday, Cass runs away from home to live in New York with her boyfriend.

Caitlin does the one thing that Cass never did – she tries out for cheerleading and makes the team. But even as she’s learning the routines and tumbling across the floor, she hates every moment of it. She is going through the routines of high school life, more for her mom than for herself. And then one night she meets Rogerson Biscoe. It is obvious from the beginning that Rogerson is a Rich Bad Boy – the type who is into drugs, sex, and rebellion. Rogerson sells pot to the local school crowd, and as he and Caitlin become a couple, it is clear that she is not going to be making the types of decisions that her parents would approve of.

Caitlin quickly begins to spiral down. She smokes pot with Rogerson and her friends, she skips class and cheerleading practice, and she lies to her parents about what she’s doing. Caitlin and Rogerson’s relationship becomes more and more physical and she begins to spend all of her time with him. Then one night, after she doesn’t show up to meet Rogerson, he hits her. And as shocked, and as hurt as she is, Caitlin takes it. “I could have just gotten out of the car and walked up to my house, leaving him behind for ever. Things would have been very different if I had done that. But the fact was that I loved Rogerson. it wasn’t just that I loved him, even: it was that I loved what I was when I was with him. Not a little sister, the pretty girl’s sidekick, the second runner-up. All I’d ever wanted was to make my own path, far from Cass’s. And even after what had happened, I wasn’t ready to give that up just yet.”

Rogerson controls Caitlin completely. Because she knows that he gets furious waiting for her, she is careful to be on time, to never let him see her talking with a boy, but still the beatings come. Caitlin has to keep her arms and legs covered at all times, so that no one will see the bruises. And she tells nobody what is going on with her.

I think this is the first book about dating abuse that I have read. I expected to identify with the victim, but I never expected to feel sympathy for Rogerson. He is bad and wrong and needs serious consequences, but he also needs a lot of help, and I felt sorry for him because I don’t think that he’ll get that help.


Becky said...

I too find it difficult to write about the books I REALLY loved. And I am also a *big* Sarah Dessen fan. This is actually the only book of hers that I haven't read. I've simply been too busy reading new 2007 books to go back and pick this one up. But it is on my eventual to-read list if I ever get caught up!

Paige Y. said...


I still haven't read That Summer. Somehow it escaped my radar the year it was released and I've never gone back to read it. It's like having an ace in my pocket -- when I run out of things to read (as if THAT will ever happen), I know I have it waiting for me.

Becky said...

That's how I feel about Dreamland. :)

kimberleyjo said...

I am a HUGE sarah Dessen fan. My two favorate book are This Lullaby and Dreamland, I think thing that, honestly, Dreamland is the best book that i ahve EVER read!!! I understand Caitlin and REALLY feel sorry for Rogerson. Jerk, he is but in a way i still like him. A must read!

Anonymous said...

this book is an instant classic
i mean i never really thought about dating abuse and i thought i shouldnt worry bout it wen i go out with a boy
but thanks sooo much for informing readers bout this danger many girls face....getting abused by her bf..

jessi said...

i have read dreamland twice! i am just completely and utterly in love with it. it has such gorgeous poeic exerpts, and i myself being a poet just fall in love with it. on page 194 (yes, i memorized it), there is a paragraph about her in the dress, it's just gorgeous. im a huge sarah dessen fan as well. i read someone like you and now i'm reading lock and key. i also have the truth about forever waiting for me to read. but the beginning is slow and i just can't push myself past it. i also want to read this lullaby, stat! lol i am contemplating reading dreamland again after lock and key though. that's how much i loved it! and IS SARAH INTERTWINING THE CHARACTERS IN LOCK AND KEY FROM DREAMLAND?! my friend has dreamland and i can't check! but i think nate and ruby are the two people from the room when rogerson brings caitlin on his run of dealing! and when they go to the party with all the rich kids (from perkins?!)! is that nate and ruby in that room?! she's used rogerson in the book already. is it true?!?!?!

Paige Y. said...

I do know that she uses some of the same characters in her books and most are set in the same town. I must confess that I don't really connect her books, however, because I have read them so far apart. I'm going to try and read The Truth about Forever and Lock and Key this summer, so maybe I'll see more connections.

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite book ever too!
looooooved it.
i cryed, a lot, actually the most i've ever cryed while reading, it was fantastic, eceryone has to read it.
"I think this is the first book about dating abuse that I have read. I expected to identify with the victim, but I never expected to feel sympathy for Rogerson"

I do too!
And btw, it was a good review

Kelli said...

Rogerson appears in another book by Sarah Dessen called Lock and Key. I love her books too btw :)

Anonymous said...

I personally loved the book. I read alot but was forced to read this one is a english class talking about dateing abuse. And since ive seen many of my friends go though various types of dateing abuse I could really relate and felt the Dessen really captured the dangers in "teenage love" and how in some realtions its more dangerious than others.
Add me on myspace/regretbeingborn

Anonymous said...

What was the setting of the story?

Sverige said...

This book was amazing. I didn't think I would like it, but the excerpt really interested me. Sarah Dessen I had heard of, but never had read her books. In this book i cried, and came to really understand Caitlin. I was shocked, then grateful at the end. This book really stood out, and I don't say that often.